Thousands of well-dressed people donned gowns, tuxedos and loads of pride as they descended upon the Baltimore Convention Center for “The People’s Ball,” the inaugural celebration for Maryland’s barrier-breaking leader Gov. Wes Moore, the first Black man to lead the state. Star-studded, with performances from the likes of Grammy-winning singer Maxwell and Club Quarantine’s DJ D-Nice, Moore didn’t hold back in throwing a major party before kicking off, what he promised to be, a term of hard work.
“I hope y’all wore comfortable shoes, because we’re about to party tonight. But, party responsibly, because tomorrow we get to work,” said Moore, who walked and danced on stage, greeting the crowd to the A Tribe Called Quest’s hit “Can I Kick It?” “Tomorrow Maryland’s decade begins, and it is our time to make this happen.”
About 12,000 folks deep, the celebration felt like one big family affair, where several people embraced as they ran into friends and loved ones, some who they hadn’t seen since before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Don’t get it twisted, it was packed, but the joy of the history-making moment oozed from every corner of the hard-to-navigate room. The place was full of average Joe’s, hard workers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, businessmen, actors, television stars, and athletes alike. From basketball star Carmelo Anthony, comedian Chris Tucker and political strategist, commentator and media personality Symone Sanders-Townsend, to everyday proud celebrators, people proudly marched through the convention center floor, marking the monumental occasion with victorious cheer.
“[There’s] so many good people here, so much great history. I’m going to come back and spend more time. This is a great place to be. Y’all should be proud of your state and your new governor. And you’ve got a young governor, you’ve got some spark in office,” Tucker, 51, said of Moore, 44. “He’s going to bring some new ideas. He’s going to do some new things. About time this young generation takes over.”
A self-proclaimed “fan of Baltimore,” Charm City native Vernon Ross came from New York City to be part of the barrier-breaking moment.
“It makes me feel so proud, because Baltimore has a lot of areas and a lot of need for things to change,” Ross said. “I believe it’s going to happen, and with Wes Moore becoming the governor of Maryland, it’s an indication of that change and progress.
As singer Maxwell performed a swinging set jam packed with some of his biggest hits including, “Fortunate,” “Pretty Wings,” and “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder),” and DJ D-Nice spun, like the master he is on the ones and twos, people dined, drank and danced the night away, while emphasizing the weight of the moment of history.
“I’m here to celebrate the first African American governor of Maryland and wonderful human being, Wes Moore,” said Steve Loyka, who played football with the new governor, while they were students at Johns Hopkins.
Having followed his career, the governor’s former teammate, who works as a business consultant in Washington, D.C., is excited to see what Moore will do for Maryland.
“I know he’s interested in letting the people lead, so he’s going to listen to the citizens of Maryland and I know that’s going to drive his administration,” Loyka continued. “One of the best things I’ve ever heard him say is ‘governing is an open book test. We’re going to listen, we’re going to listen to the experts and we’re going to create better outcomes for the citizens of Maryland.’”
Moore has remained dedicated to his goal to “leave no one behind.”
“For us to win, it means we’ve got to win collectively, and it means we need everybody on board. And when I say leave no one behind, that does not mean only for the people who voted for us, it means, leave no one behind, and that is how we plan on going.”
Looking ahead, Loyka sees Moore going on to do powerful things not only in the state, but the nation.
“His leadership qualities were evident from the very beginning, before he served in Afghanistan, before he was CEO of the largest anti-poverty foundation in the country, he’s just a tremendous human being. He’s going to go on and do great things, not only in the state of Maryland, but long term, I think for the United States.”